Videos capture spectacle of local wildlife

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Courtesy of Ron Marks
The wildlife videos of Ron Marks can be seen on his YouTube channel.

Visitors to the usually peaceful Redwood Grove, located off University Avenue in Los Altos, might have been aware of increased activity in recent months. It turns out that the source of the strange – and loud – chattering and squawking, high in the canopy, was a colony of nesting great blue herons.

Neighbors shelter, garden in place to beautify entrance

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Courtesy of William Dolan
Neighbors on Woodstock Lane beautify the entrance to their Los Altos street last month.

Woodstock Lane resident William Dolan and his neighbors grew tired of what they saw as neglected city-owned property at the entrance to their 12-home neighborhood.
“I have been living on the street for 43 years,” Dolan said. “Despite several attempts, we never could get anyone interested in making the … property look better.”

Genealogy experts share tips, motivations for researching family roots

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Courtesy of Liane Jensen
Liane Jensen and her family, Mike, from left, Anne, Sarah and Grace, sit in the Mayflower float after the 2020 Rose Parade.

From arts and crafts to Marie Kondo-grade reorgs, the COVID-19 pandemic has afforded the sheltered in place plenty of opportunity to complete any number of long-delayed personal projects. Count among them the family tree chart.

El Camino Hospital nurse fosters kittens with special needs

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Courtesy of Diane Foxen
Diane Foxen takes care of sick infants as a nurse, as well as kittens, above, with special needs.

Most days, Diane Foxen works 12-hour shifts as a nurse caring for sick infants in the neonatal intensive-care unit at either El Camino Hospital or Santa Clara Valley Medical Center. When she returns home, her day is far from over – Foxen has kittens to care for.

Not just any kittens, either. As a volunteer for Humane Society Silicon Valley, Foxen specializes in fostering kittens with ringworm.
“I know that if I were alone after work, it would be really hard,” the Sunnyvale resident said. “Having my kittens gives me somebody to hold and touch and love – and to give back to society.”
Since 2009, Foxen said she has fostered nearly 200 kittens, caring for as many as 13 at a time.
“Having a foster parent of Diane’s caliber taking on some of the most challenging cases has been critical to our mission,” said Cristie Kamiya, HSSV chief of shelter medicine. “Diane has literally saved the lives of the many kittens she has taken in. Without her, and our many dedicated foster parents, we would not be able to have the lifesaving impact that we do today.”
The first cat Foxen fostered, Smudge, had cancer was given only six months to live. Under Foxen’s care, Smudge lived three years longer.
“After that, I started getting phone calls from the Humane Society, saying, ‘Hey, Diane, we’ve got this really sick kitten – it’s just like NICU nursing – can you take care of it?’” Foxen said. “And so now my specialty is fostering very sick ringworm kittens.”
Ringworm is a treatable skin fungus, but it is highly contagious among kittens. Because it spreads, many cats with ringworm are put down despite being otherwise healthy, according to Foxen. To care for them, she isolates the kittens in a room and gives them medicated baths and oral medication each week.

Facilitating adoption

After such extensive care, Foxen said it can be difficult to let the kittens go. To cope, she creates what she calls “kitten adoption bags” for their new families. The bags contain each kitten’s favorite toys, pictures, Foxen’s homemade cat collar and a letter introducing herself encouraging the new owners to reach out.
“You have to be in the mindset that you can’t keep them all, and if you do, then you’re not saving any more,” Foxen said. “Every kitten you can let go of to be adopted out, you can save another by bringing it into your home and fostering.”
After a long shift in the NICU, the kittens always make her laugh and smile, she added.
“They help on those really bad days when we’ve lost a baby or had a heartache,” Foxen said. “People say, ‘You’re a neonatal nurse. I could never do that. You’re a hero.’ But to me, my kittens are my heroes sometimes.”
Foxen strongly encourages people to consider fostering animals as way to give back to the community; they might just develop the same kind of strong connection she has with her kittens.
“Having this transition from a kitten that may not make it to this healthy kitten that is now running around and playing, that is just reward in itself,” she said. “Having a foster – whatever animal – I highly suggest it; it can really help people make it through tough times.”

For more information on fostering with Humane Society Silicon Valley, visit

Los Altos History Museum goes on the road to honor volunteers

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Courtesy of the Los Altos History Museum
Longtime museum volunteer Pinky Whelan displays her award outside her home.

The Los Altos History Museum took to the road to honor 14 nominees for Volunteer of the Year for its annual appreciation event. The museum usually holds the awards ceremony in its garden courtyard, inviting all 180 volunteers, but with shelter-in-place guidelines restricting large gatherings, the museum changed plans.

Los Altos resident Davis masters art of volunteering

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Courtesy of Apala Egan
Jan Davis of Los Altos displays her artwork.

The twin passions of longtime Los Altos resident Jan Davis are art and community service.
She grew up in town, attending Almond, Egan Junior High, Los Altos High and Foothill College. She earned a degree in graphic design from ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena. Her interest in art developed early – she enjoyed painting as a child, and in high school taught art to children.

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